Apr 2, 2014 2:16 PM

Boulder company fighting Ebola outbreak

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - When an Ebola virus outbreak occurred in West Africa last month, officials for Broomfield-based Corgenix Medical Corp. scrambled and raided their local laboratory coolers to assemble a potential line of defense: prototype tests developed to detect the deadly virus in a matter of minutes.

At least 70 people have reportedly died in south Guinea since the outbreak started two weeks ago.

Amid heightened concerns that the deadly virus may spread and affect people in neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone - where scientists are researching and conducting tests for Corgenix and the global Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium - Corgenix shipped the entire stock of its prototype tests to Africa.

"We have to set up sort of a front line of defense in Sierra Leone," said Corgenix president and CEO Douglass Simpson. "We also are getting a lot of interesting requests (from other research teams and agencies) screaming for the product. Everyone over there is literally scared to death.

"It just spreads like wildfire and then it goes quiet."

Ebola outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent, according to the World Health Organization. The virus is fast-spreading and can kill an infected person in a matter of days or weeks.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola. Some potential therapies are being evaluated.

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